Friday, August 01, 2008

Mechanical Separation

For the past few days I have been away from my computer.
Regretfully so.
I sincerely apologize to all Splash du Jour addicts out there.
All…. all three of you!
In a very real sense, you could say I have been "Mechanically Separated" from something I love.
Blogging, and blog friends.
Anyhoo… those of you who know me well… (again, all three of you… and you know who you are…) you will know that I love food.
Rather, I love EATING food.
I even like BUYING food.
I love grocery-shopping… and I love reading the ingredient labels on all of the stuff I eat! [Click here for an EXAMPLE of such a pastime.)
One beneficial side effect of my label-reading (being a Canadian) is that I have learned to speak French!
For those of you who do not know… (all three of you)… in Canada, all of our food has to be labelled in English and French.
My personal feelings (that all labelling should also be in Ukrainian) seem to not matter to any legislators, thus far! But as I was saying…. I learned to speak French by reading labels.
I’m not exactly fluent though! For instance, just the other morning, in the elevator of my apartment building, an attractive woman entered, and said, “Bonjour.”
I turned to her and said, “Vider le chili dans une casserole moyenne.” 
(Umm… → “Empty chili into a medium saucepan.”)
Needless to say, her and I are not going out dancing this evening!

But just today I was sitting there at work at lunchtime, reading the label of my Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup, you know the one? As in, “The Soup That Eats Like A Meal© ”…. or, as we, on this side of the bridge to Quebec like to say, “Une soupe qui se mange comme un repas.”

So…. while this wonderful soup is heating in the microwave, I am reading the label, and I quickly get to the part that says “mechanically separated chicken.”
Seriously, this gave me pause.

I stared at this phrase…. wondering what on earth it was implying…. and WHY it was implying it.
Why even MENTION the “process”…. why make a point of noting that the chicken parts I am about to eat, have been MECHANICALLY separated?
I must admit, prior to reading the thing, I had not even speculated on how the chicken fragments had ended up in this can of soup!
But now I was WORRIED!
Like… I am wondering, is this some sort of disclaimer?
Is it a legal statement?

As in… “Umm, if you find any beaks or toes or paperclips or whatnot in this Soup That Eats Like A Meal© , we are telling you up front that the problem has nothing to do with any sort of human error?”
BEEP…. BEEP….. BEEP….. [the microwave calls me hither….]

See…. as to the other ingredients, I was not all that concerned… for instance, I am under no illusion as to whether or not any carrot fragments were ever in any sort of actual GARDEN per se. Or saw one ray of actual sunshine upon their leafy carrot-tops!
I do not envision Grandma Campbell© toiling in her backyard, pulling each carrot out of the earth and then washing and slicing it, tossing it into a steaming pot, as her calico cat purrs, yonder.
I have never envisioned her actually digging any of the potatoes or anything!
And so now, reading this jargon about this… this Robotically-Severed© “chicken”, I guess I am wondering if the veggies were also grown in some kind of test-tube or whatnot!
Why would a (fairly reputable) food company have to LET YOU KNOW that the chicken that went into their soup was “mechanically separated”?
I am not even sure if I really WANT to know any more information about this!
Because, like…. I want to totally keep EATING this stuff.
Because, let’s face it! It DOES “eat like a meal!© ”

Mechanically separated?
Mechanically separated FROM WHAT?
Do any of us want to know?

***********

7 comments:

Merisi said...

Oh boy, have I got news for you:
You may not want to know what "mechanically separated" means!

W A R N I N G .
DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT TO CONTINUE EATING MECHANICALLY SEPARATED WHATEVER!

Imagine a chicken carcass, already stripped of all its meats, or so you may think by looking at it. Now throw this carcass into a centrifuge, push the start button and wait, while the carcass rotates at superhuman speed (you did put on the cover, securing it tightly, did you?). The centrifugal force (please ask a physicist or a brain surgeon for the technical term) will thus separate from the bones whatever is separable (please use your imagination here, taking into account that centripetal acceleration is way stronger than your teeth and is not burdened by a demanding palate either!). Bon appetit!

P.S.:
Once upon a time there was this wonderful angel here on earth, she really had a way of teaching cooking, even to eleven year olds with no prior cooking experience. The angel's name was Julia Child.
Try her chicken soup, you may never go back to mechanically harvested chicken dust.

cipriano said...

Yaiiiyyyeee!
That is a bit unnerving.

Jeane said...

Eww. I really didn't like that picture in mind! I thought it meant a machine that chopped or pulled- but high speed spinning? Somehow that sounds more unpleasant. Although, granted, the chicken is already past feeling anything. Still unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

So this is how the chicken got to the other side of the road. He was whirred and zapped there by centrifugal force!

So much for sucking the marrow from life. Drinking life to the dregs.

Cipriano. You need a live in maid. A cook. So you won't have to exert yourself opening up those cans of soup and can spend more time entertaining us with your hapless adventures.

Melanie said...

I concur with the Ukrainian labelling idea. Good one!
Have fun eating your chicken goo.

stefanie said...

Maybe it is sign that you should go vegetarian ;)

Anonymous said...

From Wiki:

Questions arose in the 1980s as to the safety of mechanically separated meat. In 1982, a report published by U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on mechanically separated meat said it was safe and established a standard of identity for the food product. Some restrictions were made on how much can be used and the type of products in which it can be used. These restrictions were based on concerns for limited intake of certain components in MSM like calcium. Mechanically separated meat must be labeled as "mechanically separated" beef, pork, chicken, or turkey in the ingredients statement. Hot dogs can contain no more than 20 percent mechanically separated beef or pork. The USDA's final rule became effective November 4, 1996.

Concerns were brought about[who?] again when the BSE epidemic was discovered in the United Kingdom in 1986. Since bits of the spinal cord (the part most likely to be carrying BSE) and brain tissue often got mixed in with the rest of the meat, products using mechanically separated meat taken from the bodies of bovines were at higher risk for transmitting BSE to humans. As a result, in 1989 the United Kingdom tightened restrictions to help ensure that pieces of the spinal cord would not be present in mechanically separated meat taken from bovines.